How to Ship Posters

Learn how to package posters properly for shipment, extra surcharges you may incur, and how to save the most money on labels
how to ship posters
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Think back to when you were a kid, and picture your room. Did you have posters on the wall? Chances are, you answered “yes!” Posters are a time-honored tradition for kids to hang in their rooms all around the world, but it’s not just kids who do it these days. There are tons of fans and memorabilia collectors out there who still buy posters, which means there’s a huge market for online sellers…and that means there are a lot of poster shippers out there, too. If you’re one of them and are looking for some guidance, you’ve come to the right place. This article is all about how to ship posters, including how to pack them properly and how to save the most money doing it. Let’s roll!

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Roll Up Posters and Pack Them Inside of Cylindrical Mailing Tubes

The first thing you need to think about when shipping posters is how to properly pack them. As a general rule of thumb in the industry (and in life), you never want to fold your poster! Instead, roll it up into a cylinder as tight as you can, and gently place it inside a cardboard mailing tube. Most tubes have cylindrical shapes, which makes them the perfect type of packaging option for shipping posters.

If you’re on the hunt for cardboard tubes, the ULINE website has a ton of options to meet your needs. You can also order free Priority Mail tubes on the USPS website that will come directly to your door, free of charge! We’ve linked the two different tube options that USPS offers below:

Ground Advantage is the Cheapest USPS Service for Shipping Posters

When it comes to sending posters, you won’t find a more affordable service than USPS Ground Advantage. USPS Ground Advantage is the Postal Service’s exclusive ground-based service and its most affordable option for sending any packages within the United States. That said, it’s also the slowest service from USPS. Delivery timeframes are estimated to be between 2-5 business days, but since posters require time-sensitive delivery, the slower delivery likely won’t be an issue for most shippers. On top of being able to send packages up to 70 pounds per mailpiece, each Ground Advantage label automatically comes with $100 of insurance from USPS.

Pro Tip: If you use the Priority Mail tubes that you can get from the USPS website, you have to pay for Priority Mail service. This is because USPS requires you to use the exact service that’s marked on USPS-branded boxes. If you use Ground Advantage service to send your poster, you’ll need to provide your own packaging…and this costs money. At the end of the day, using free packaging and paying for Priority Mail service may still be the cheaper option, even though Ground Advantage is the more affordable service.

USPS and Other Carriers Consider Tubes as “Irregular Packages”

The one downside to sending a poster inside of a tube with USPS is that you’ll likely incur extra surcharges on top of the cost of postage. As of April 3rd, 2022, USPS imposes surcharges on most mailing tubes as part of the new “non-standard fees” the agency introduced. Some of these fees may apply to your poster shipment, depending on how long your tube is. We’ve listed the USPS non-standard fees below for each service.

For Ground Advantage Shipments

  • $4 if any length of your package exceeds 22 inches but is less than 30 inches
  • $8.40 if any length of your package exceeds 30 inches
  • $18 for any packages with a volume greater than 2 cubic feet
  • $1.50 for any incorrect or missing dimensions that result in any of the above fees

For Priority Mail & Priority Mail Express Shipments

  • $4 if any length of your package exceeds 22 inches but is less than 30 inches
  • $18 if any length of your package exceeds 30 inches
  • $30 for any packages with a volume greater than 2 cubic feet
  • $1.50 for any incorrect or missing dimensions that result in any of the above fees

Note: These costs get added on top of the cost of your postage. So, as an easy example, if your tube costs $10 to ship with Priority Mail but happens to be 25 inches long, you’ll pay a total of $14.

To learn more about these surcharges, read our article about USPS non-standard fees.

Consider Purchasing Shipping Insurance For Your Poster

Posters aren’t fragile items by any means…but sometimes they can take damage during transit if the tube gets punctured or bends at all. When this happens, posters are unsalvageable, and you may find yourself needing to go out of pocket to ship another one to your recipient. However, you can hedge against this possibility by protecting your package with shipping insurance.

When you purchase shipping insurance, you can file a claim for the full declared value of your package if it goes missing or takes any damage during its journey. It typically only costs a couple of bucks to insure the full value of an item like a poster, so in our experience, it’s well worth the investment.

Save Money on All USPS Labels with Online Shipping Software

While you’ll have to pay non-standard fees on sending posters almost 99% of the time with the new USPS rate structure, there are still ways you can put some money back in your pocket. Hands down, the best strategy for this is to use online shipping software to buy USPS labels at deep discounts.

When you use shipping software, you get access to special levels of discounts that carriers like USPS typically only give to huge commercial shippers who send more than 50,000 packages per year. This level of discounts for USPS is known as Commercial Pricing…and with the best shipping software options out there, you’ll get to ship at these discounts for no extra charge on top of your postage costs. In some cases, these discounts can save you 89% off of what you’d pay to ship the same package with Ground Advantage at your local Post Office. If you’re an online seller sending lots of posters out, these savings can end up putting a ton of money back in your pocket!

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  1. Robert Pyryl

    its crazy to think that people on Ebay and Amazon selling poster with free shipping through the USPS. How do they do that?

  2. Paula

    As someone with an online print store of my digital artworks, I was stunned to find I have to pay an additional $15 on top of the postage cost for the 30″ mailing tubes I use (which are actually 31 inches on the outside). For a dozen years, I’ve been sending them to my clients by priority mail which includes $50 insurance and tracking. Now it’s going to cost me $25 to ship a print! Is the USPS trying to kill small businesses? I gotta wonder.

    • Theresa

      Paula, I totally understand. It is rough. As a prior career carrier at USPS, in the long run, the price is still a deal. I always cry about the high costs of shipping but always consider,,,,, $25 to ship it or $2000 to drive it yourself out to California…. Everything in life is relevant….Good day!

      • Paula

        Hi Theresa, thanks for your comment. I always thought that USPS was a better deal, but now others in my line of work tell me they ship tubes of the size I use through UPS for considerably less (about $12 less per tube) than USPS.


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